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Pets ‘may reduce childhood allergies and obesity’
Babies from families with pets were found to have higher levels of two microbes.
Study finds higher levels of two microbes in babies exposed to pets

Early exposure to pets could make children less prone to allergies and obesity, scientists have said as a new study revealed babies from families with pets have higher levels of two important microbes.

A team from the University of Alberta tested faecal samples from infants, finding exposure to pets during pregnancy or the first three months after birth increases the abundance of two bacteria - Ruminococcus and Oscillospira - that are linked with reduced childhood allergies and obesity, respectively.

Commenting on the latest findings, which are published in Microbiome, lead researcher Anita Kozyrskyj said: “The abundance of these two bacteria were increased twofold when there was a pet in the house”.

Researchers also found that the immunity-boosting exchange occurred even in three scenarios known for reducing immunity - C-section, antibiotics during birth and lack of breast feeding.

Furthermore, their research suggests the presence of pets in the house lowered the risk of vaginal GBS (group B strep), which causes pneumonia in newborns, being transmitted during birth.

The work builds on two decades of research showing children who grow up with dogs have lower rates of asthma. The theory is that early exposure to dirt and bacteria, for example in a dog’s fur or on paws, can build early immunity.

Kozyrskyj said it is too early to say how the latest findings will lead, but it is “not that far-fetched” that a supplement of these microbiomes could be created.

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Newborn okapi named after Meghan Markle

News Story 1
 An endangered okapi recently born at London Zoo has been named Meghan - after Prince Harry’s fiancé Meghan Markle - in celebration of the upcoming royal wedding. Okapis are classed as endangered in the wild, having suffered ongoing declines since 1995. Zookeeper Gemma Metcalf said: “We’re very pleased with how mother and baby are doing. Oni is being very attentive, making sure she regularly licks her clean and keeping a watchful eye over Meghan as she sleeps.” Image © ZSL London Zoo  

News Shorts
Ten new cases of Alabama rot confirmed

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists has confirmed 10 new cases of Alabama rot, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 122.

In a Facebook post, the referral centre said the cases were from County Durham, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Somerset, Devon, and Powys.

Pet owners are urged to remain vigilant and seek advice from their vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.